On Wednesday night we found out that Mike Ashley had not only upset the fans and Rafa Benitez – but that once again he was in a stand-off with the Newcastle players.

Last summer the owner refused to agree to a bonus scheme for the squad, that was commensurate with what happens at all the other Premier League clubs.

That dispute was only settled a month into the season when Jamaal Lascelles made contact with Mike Ashley and sorted it.

This time it has happened again, it becoming public when the players refused to speak to the media after the game in Braga (read below).

Embarrassingly for Ashley, this included the official club media.

The dispute is still going on, with the Newcastle squad once again coming to a collective decision not to speak to the press after Saturday’s defeat to Augsburg. They also once again snubbed the official NUFC media, meaning only Rafa Benitez spoke to the club channels of communication after the game.

Difficult to imagine how the club could be in worse shape only days before the season starts, bonus schemes not the biggest issue in the world, but indicative of the chaos and neglect within the club. As the owner seemingly does everything he can to make life as difficult as possible for his manager.

Rafa Benitez asked if the squad’s dispute with Mike Ashley has meant the team’s attitude hasn’t been right for matches:

“Maybe it wasn’t before the game against Braga.

“Today? I will tell you yes.

“I think the players will tell you that our job is to perform on the pitch and I can’t complain about the players, or the way they approached this game.

“Their attitude is right now and it has to be the same for the whole season.

“For us, it is about the team and last year we saw the team spirit, that was the key.

“So it has to be the key (this) next year.”

The Mag – 2 August 2018:

Things are going from bad to worse under Mike Ashley in this pre-season.

Yet again there has been zero investment in the training ground, the Academy, St James Park, and of course no net investment in the first team squad, transfers currently showing tens of millions of pounds in credit this summer.

Last night, Rafa Benitez went public with how bad things are on the transfer front and how he has been let down. Holding out little hope that he expects the club to properly deliver on transfers in the remaining week of the window.

After the 4-0 hammering by Braga, the Newcastle players refused to speak to the media.

At the time it was believed to be simply due to disappointment at the defeat and general situation at the club.

However, on Thursday morning it has been revealed that it is due to the players being in dispute with Mike Ashley.

Last summer we saw a long drawn out farce with the Newcastle United owner refusing to agree to the going rate on squad bonuses, not wanting to agree to the same kind of deal that players had at rival clubs.

It eventually took a phone conversation between captain Jamaal Lascelles and Mike Ashley for it to be sorted (see below), the dispute not settled until a month into the season in mid-September.

Now the Chronicle have revealed that once again Mike Ashley hasn’t agreed to a satisfactory deal with the players, leading them to refuse to speak to the media.

The newspaper add that the Newcastle players even refused to speak to the club’s official TV channel and website last night.

This club operates in such a cheap, embarrassing and haphazard way, you would almost think it was owned by whoever is in charge at Sports Direct…

The Mag – 13 September 2017:

Mike Ashley once again released a PR ‘exclusive’ through Sky Sports at the weekend.

The story being that the NUFC owner would ‘donate £20m’ to the Newcastle players if they win the FA Cup this season.

This leading to much amusement at what other unrealistic bonuses could be offered, such as winning the Premier League, or the Champions League, or the Great North Run before scoring a double hat-trick at Swansea.

This PR announcement came against a backdrop of a row that had lasted all summer, with Mike Ashley having offered the Newcastle players a bonus scheme for this Premier League season that was way below what rival clubs have incentivised players with.

The offer on the table was £1m if they finished 17th and avoided relegation, which worked out on average at less than a week’s wages for each player.

That amount would then increase by £1m for every position above 17th.

The Newcastle players though were refusing to accept less than their rivals and a month into the season there was still no agreement.

However, agreement has now been reached.

Miles Starforth (of the Shields Gazette) has had the inside track on this story from the start and he has revealed that a phone conversation between Mike Ashley and Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles saw the bonus scheme eventually agreed.

On Wednesday morning he reports that the agreed deal is the same as what was on offer previously but that Newcastle players will share £4m if they avoid relegation in 17th place and then still an additional £1m for every position higher.

The Premier League payout at the end of the season sees the 20th placed club get £1.9m extra for finishing bottom, then for each place above they get an extra £1.9m.

So roughly speaking, Mike Ashley and the Newcastle players have agreed that the squad will receive half of the extra money the club receive depending on their position…plus the £20m for winning the FA Cup.

Now the players would receive the same £20m if they win the Premier League (cough cough) as they would the FA Cup.

I would happily settle for either…

  • Paul Patterson

    Trouble is, Ashley likes/enjoys the uncertainty that his actions cause. It means Lascelles has to come to HIM, not the other way around, HE holds the power. He’s just on one big ego trip.

    Thursday- Ring ring, ring ring.
    Ashley: Hello!
    Lascelles: Hi Mike, can we get this all sorted please as soon as possible, we need to sort out the squad bonus in time for Saturday.
    Ashley: Bonus?
    Lascelles: Yeah, performance related targets for where we finish/what we can win this season?
    Ashley: What do you need that for? The aim is 15th-17th place in the league and I can’t say I’m too bothered about winning anything.
    Lascelles: Every other club has the same scheme in place and I’m sure your S****s D****t stores do as well?
    Ashley: What you say makes a lot of sense, I’ll arrange something immediately.

    Next thing we know a chopper is positioned on Lascelles’ lawn and he is flogged to fund the squad bonus scheme . .

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Where did we see this before :)

    • Wezza

      He probably sees Lascelles as a trouble maker and we all know what has happened to trouble makers. Barton, Nolan, Carroll etc.

  • Jimblag23

    Complete mess head to toe. What an embarrassment.

  • Leicester Mag

    Never thought he’d find any new and more ways to strip the empty husk of the club further

  • Mrkgw

    Year upon year the same series of problems. When will this odious owner go? Awful, awful, awful. ASHLEY OUT!

  • SuperDesHamilton

    Eh? But I heard on here it’s the fans who upset the players? Ask Monkseaton etc…

  • Peter Robson

    I love our club and have supported them for more than 50 years (God I feel old now that I´ve typed that), and although Ashley is without a doubt the most unfit person to be left in charge of a football club, a bit like putting Herod in charge of childcare, I feel no sympathy or even fellowship with players who are holding out for even more money.
    They already earn obscene ammounts compared to the thousands of supporters who fill SJP every week to cheer them on !!

    • Ben Jones

      It’s a perverse world when lads on the dole or low paid jobs are disgusted about the treatment of the poor players and their bonus payments. Football is sick

      • Will In Despair!

        Consider; how the North East of England was classed the poor man of the EU for many a year, with this in itself not so long ago when we lost said label (only because of politics!!)

        More offensive, verging on vile, how now we constantly have a small grotesque ilk of persons, whom try defend the indefensible, and are so far stuffed up their own behinds and defending their own work agenda policies, and no doubt as their salary commands so, who are so ignorant consumed by their own bigotry and prejudices, they cannot see how posting ‘its a perverse world when lads on the dole or low paid jobs are disgusted…

        Oh my, my oh my oh my; hold your head in utter utter shame, arrogance like this I take you are very familiar with thanks to the mirror image of 💩 you see every day!

        Appalling in each and every simple way!

        I would not be surprised if you are a closet racist at the same time! Filth!

        • Ben Jones

          Ooooh. Might as well call me one even if I’m not just to be safe I’d say

    • Viru leckworth

      Absolutely. If (before I retired) I earned their sort of wages, I would stay well under the radar.

      • Superdooperhooper

        And if you were as obscenely rich as ashley and employed people on minimum wage zero hours contracts you’d keep your head down as well . Two wrongs don’t make a right

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Whilst I agree whole heartedly if it is on offer elsewhere then they should be rewarded. You cannot attract the players otherwise. I also think in the grand scheme of things our players did us proud last year and punched above their weight. No one can question that. We arent talking City players here on £250k a week. Their bonuses likely are even higher as well! You cannot expect to not pay the going rate if you are wanting premier league players.

      Its the treatment Ashley gives to anyone at the club. Also the bonus… Is it just to players or staff full stop?

      Its a situation that should have been agreed and not left to fester. Its only damaging and gets played out in public.

      We are such an embarrassing mess.

    • Tweed Mag

      I see what you mean. Perhaps it is the player’s way of making it clear that Ashley is no good for the club. He never meets them, gives them encouragement or turns up at matches.

  • Jonas

    The fans, the manager, the players are all on one side here, the owner on the other. There has to be something that can be done given this.
    One day soon we’ll have meek journeymen players and a yes-man manager and it’ll just be us again.